The Dragon Had but a Short Time

10 Nov
Dragon -- Revelation 12

from Google Images

As I conclude this study on Revelation 12, we come to the place where the dragon realized he was cast to the earth, and he knew that he had only a short time left, before he would be bound (cf. Revelation 20:1-2), so he persecuted the woman (the elect) who brought forth the male Child, Jesus (Revelation 12:12-13). This literally played out in the life of Herod the Great after he failed to discover where Jesus (“he who was born King of the Jews” – Matthew 2:1-2), was living (Matthew 2:7-8, 11-12, 16). Joseph had taken Jesus and Mary to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14). It wasn’t until about a year later that Herod was stricken terminally ill, and he knew he had but a short time left before he would die.

Josephus tells us that Herod became mad and violent. He then had his two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus by his favorite wife, Miriam, slain.[1] Then he slew the children in Bethlehem,[2] hoping one would be the predicted Messiah. Herod also had another of his sons, Antipater, slain five days before he finally succumbed to his illness.[3] Antipater had tried to slay his father, but was found out and tried by Herod in the presence of the Roman president of Syria.[4] He also had two beloved teachers (Pharisees) and 40 of their students slain about two weeks before he died, for their part in destroying the sculpted eagle above the Eastern Gate of the Temple.[5] Finally, he scheduled the execution of hundreds of prominent Jews, whom he had gathered in the hippodrome. He commanded that they would be slain just after he died, so the nation would mourn on that day.[6] It mattered not that their tears would be for others, it mattered only that the nation would mourn on the day Herod died.

One may ask what does this have to do with Revelation 12 and the dragon’s efforts to destroy the righteous? The text tells us:

And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:13-17 KJV)

In my previous study[7] I concluded that the dragon (Satan, the Devil) was the apostate Jewish state, which was first removed from Jewish lands by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and then brought back by Cyrus the Great of Persia. To build upon this understanding, notice that the dragon, Herod the Great in our present context (i.e. the sixth head of the dragon), persecuted the woman (Revelation 12:13), who brought forth the man child (Jesus). Josephus records many incidents where Herod had unjustly slain the innocent. He also slew those who righteously opposed him and even members of his own family who had done nothing wrong, but were accused of plotting against him. Certainly, at least some of these events would be considered persecuting the woman (the righteous) who had brought forth the man child (Jesus). Moreover, Herod’s unsuccessful attempts to destroy the prominent Jews near the turn of the century (i.e. from BC to AD), could be considered  the earth helping the woman by saving those Herod wished to murder upon the news of his death.

The dragon’s efforts “to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17) could be understood in one of two ways. First, it may have to do with the righteous Jews who kept the Law and “looked for the redemption of Israel” and the establishment of the Kingdom of God (Luke 2:25, 38, 51; 24:21; Mark 15:43). The redemption of Israel and the establishment of the Kingdom of God was the Old Covenant promise of the Messiah, or the “testimony” about Jesus, whom Herod had failed to slay. If this is not the meaning of the text, it can be understood in still another manner. The dragon’s effort to make war with the seed of the woman… which have the testimony of Jesus is understood in the fact that the dragon / Herod, knowing he had but a short time, gave his power to the beast’s seventh head, Caesar.[8] Caesar changed the Jews’ system of government to that which rose out of the waters (the turmoil) after Herod’s death (Revelation 13:1, 4).

It may be good to see this in a kind of mental picture. Jesus is revealed in the Apocalypse first as High Priest, then as the Prophet, and finally as King of kings. Rebellious Israel images or imitates Jesus in a corrupt form, backwards. They are first revealed as king (the dragon), secondly, as prophet (beast of Revelation 13) and finally, as high priest (beast of Revelation 17). All three forms of corrupt Israel persecuted the elect of God. Therefore, the beast of Revelation 13 is a new version of apostatizing Israel governing during the time of Jesus’ ministry and that of the Apostles. Therefore, his war with those who have “the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17) would be understood in the context of the next version of apostatizing Israel. That is, the dragon of Revelation 12 persecuted those having “the testimony of Jesus” through the beast of Revelation 13, which the dragon’s seventh head produced, and to whom he gave his power and seat (Revelation 13:2, 4).


[1] Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews 16.11.7 (392-394)

[2] See Matthew 2:16 and compare this with Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.2.4 (42-45).

[3] Josephus: Wars of the Jews 1.33.8 (665).

[4] Josephus: Wars of the Jews 1.32.1-7; see also Wars of the Jews 1.33.1-4.

[5] Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews 17.9.1 (206)

[6] Josephus: Wars of the Jews 1.33.7 (659).

[7] See: The Dragon and His Seven Heads.

[8] See: Josephus Wars of the Jews, 2.2.6 (35); 2.6.3 (93-94), first to Archelaus’ ethnarchy; 2.7.3 (111); 2.9.1 (167) and finally to a Roman province due to the troubled waters metaphor in Revelation 13:1.

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Posted by on November 10, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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